Field trials

Last changed: 17 January 2022

When you are about to make an interview there are some important steps that you should think about in advance. When designing the interview begin your planning by asking four questions: What, who, how and why?

What is your objective? What kind of information are you seeking?
What is the best approach to obtain what you need?

Who has the information /data?
Who (and how many) will conduct/attend the interview?

How will you conduct the interview?

Why do you want to pursue in-depth information?

To help you on the way, make use of a developed interview guide. The guide is simply a list of topics that you plan to cover and a list of questions you want to pose to get answers to your topics. It is not a survey! It should be simple, allowing you to focus on the respondent. The process of creating a guide will help you to focus on what questions you want to ask. Adjust your guide to fit the time that you have set to make the interview. Try out a new guide on friends or colleagues and get their feedback before using it in the field. Try to memorize your guide!

Here come some suggested steps to follow:

  1. Introduce yourself and explain the aim of the interview
  2. Devise your questions so interviewees can help answer your question
  3. Have a sequence to your questions / topics by grouping them in themes
  4. Make sure you can easily move back and forth between questions / topics
  5. Make sure your questions are clear and easy to understand
  6. Do not ask leading questions

Plan the logistics of the interview:

  • Do you want to bring a second interviewer with you? 
  • Do you want to bring a notetaker? 
  • Do you want to record interviews? If so, do you have time to transcribe interview recordings?
  • Where will you interview people? Where is the setting with the least distraction? 
  • How long will each interview take? 

If you ask yourself if you are going to make an interview or a survey to get answers to your questions. You can do both. Many use mixed methods. Interviews is a useful tool to follow-up certain answers and respondents in surveys, to further develop the actual responses.

Table over four steps to create an interview

When developing the interview guide, remember that open questions are the keys to initiate and sustain discussion.

Table explaining open questions